I have just got back after my latest trip to the Isle of Lewis. This time there were two tasks to deal with - moving the loom and moving the yarn.
My brother-in-law, John, kindly offered to come and help me and I am very glad I took up his offer. I would most certainly not have managed on my own. We arrived on the island on Monday and were blessed with beautiful, if somewhat cold weather. That afternoon we set about dealing with some work around the house for my mother - e.g. taking down the no longer needed boiler flue that was hanging off the wall ready to fall on someone's head, and then clearing old work benches out of the garage to make space for my loom.
On Tuesday we went in to Stornoway first thing and hired a van and then drove across to Shawbost to make a start on sorting and loading the yarn. Paul, a friend of a friend, had been coerced into moving the loom and came across with his van and trailer. (Grateful thanks Paul!) The loom had been dismantled as it would not fit intact through the door of the loom shed. I now have something that looks like a million pieces of loom laid all over the workshop floor!
John and I sorted through the cops of yarn - some were almost empty tubes and there was no point in storing them. They have gone back to the mill at Harris Tweed Textiles in Carloway to be re-used. Within an hour we had completely filled the van and headed back to Upper Coll. We had just got the van emptied into the garage and were about to head back to Shawbost for the next load when Paul arrived with the loom so we stopped to help him unload. The heaviest thing was the bobbin winder which had come intact and it took all three of us to get it into the workshop. The loom parts could mostly be managed by one person.
We headed back to Shawbost to get the next load of yarn and when we got there Donald's son and son-in-law had managed to get enough yarn moved to get the warping frame detached from the wall. It went into the van first and then we piled the yarn in all around. Again, we filled the van to the roof - and there was still yarn left that didn't fit in!
Once we got back to Upper Coll we had a brief break and then started on the job of getting the first batch of yarn up into the attic. This involved trundling sacks of yarn along from the garage using the wheelbarrow and then man-handling them along the hallway to the bottom of the loft ladder. Having John at the bottom of the ladder made it a much easier job than last time. He loaded up the Ikea blue bag and I hauled it up to the loft using the pulley I had installed on my last visit.
Very quickly it became apparent that the attic was not going to provide sufficient storage space. A quick trawl on Google provided a phone number for some warehouse storage and on Wednesday morning we took what was still in the van to the store. Then we were back to the house to take out the warping frame and load up the old work benches and flue for a quick visit to the dump - sorry, recycling and waste management centre! From there we went to Shawbost again and got the last few sacks of yarn and got them back to the store in Stornoway - 250 cubic feet filled right to the top!
On Thursday morning I headed up to visit Callum (Butt of Lewis Textiles) as I needed a particular tweed to complete an order for hats that is heading to Japan. This particular trade customer likes to choose his tweeds and wanted several hats - Maggie , Mairi and Callum styles - in a grey herringbone and also in a lovely earth-tones checked tweed. Callum had the grey herringbone, but the check tweed is off at the mill being finished, so it will be another week or two before I get that.
We were lucky that all week the weather stayed dry and although the breeze had a cold bite to it, it was not a strong wind. The whole process of moving the yarn and loom was much easier than it would have been if the weather had been typical for the time of year. We spent the morning doing a few more odd jobs around the house and then had a comfortable sailing back home this afternoon.
My next visit home will be in March - and then I hope to get the loom assembled and start learning to weave. I have experienced weavers lined up to help with these tasks - though looking at the loom pieces laid out on the floor, one finds it hard to imagine that it could ever fit together again! Watch this space.............!